“Hello! My Name is…”—A Survival Guide to In-Person Networking

Did you know 85 percent of people feel they build stronger, more meaningful relationships during in-person meetings and conferences? Or that 95 percent of professionals say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships? In today’s technology-driven world, these statistics may seem a bit outdated, but they are based on recent studies that illustrate the importance of in-person networking to one’s professional development.

UMUC Career Services recently offered a webinar entitled “Hello! My Name is…  A Survival Guide to In-Person Networking” where attendees learned from Ian Hubbard, a recruiter with UMUC’s HR team, about some of the do’s and don’ts when networking face-to-face. Fortunately, with in-person networking, you never know when you will meet that next person who will be influential to your career. Perhaps it will happen at a formal networking event such as a career fair or conference. Or maybe a more unpredictable setting like your daughter’s soccer game or at the gym.

Professional associations are a particularly good way to connect with professionals in your target field.  Last month, UMUC Career Services hosted a webinar featuring a panel of three professional association representatives. Read about that session and watch the recorded webinar here. Don’t know how to find a professional association in your field? Check out this page from the U.S. Department of Labor where you can search for associations based on your target occupation or industry.

Here are a few other things to know about in-person networking:

  • Dress to impress. This is your first impression so make sure the person you are meeting will be focused on you and your accomplishments. You do not want them to be distracted by unprofessional attire.
  • Bring business cards. Make sure they contain your name, email, phone number, and URL to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Prepare your introduction. Be sure to state your name and your current or target career field, but also be prepared to ask the person you are meeting a question to keep the conversation going.
  • Attend with a friend. Going to an event with a friend is a great way to have access to meeting twice as many peoplebut only if you interact with different people.
  • Track your conversations. At the event, be sure to get a business card from every person you meet. Record what you discussed on the back of each card.
  • Follow up. After the event is over, keep the conversation going by thanking your contacts for the conversation, connecting with them on LinkedIn, and sending an email to request a one-on-one meeting. Try to stay in touch as much as you can.

The last piece of advice shared during the webinar was the importance of informational interviews, which are short, 30-minute (or less) meetings where you learn about an individual’s career journey. This is a great way to get answers to questions like:

  • What is a typical day like in your job?
  • What was the best professional decision you ever made?
  • What do you wish you had known when you were in my position (e.g. leaving school, changing careers, etc.)?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges you think your industry is facing in the next five years?
  • How important are (industry certifications, security clearances, graduate degrees, etc.) for this career field?

All types of networking, both in-person and online, are important in today’s competitive and well-connected job market. While it can be nerve-wracking to meet someone new or to be at a large networking event, remember that when you network, all you are doing is simply talking to peoplesomething you have done your entire life. From career fairs and recruiter sessions to alumni mixers, UMUC has a lot of in-person networking opportunities. With all of these events, you never know: the person you are meeting might be the key to helping you launch the next phase of your career.

For information about upcoming career and networking events, visit CareerQuest and the UMUC Alumni website.

Kristin Schrader is the Assistant Director of InternPLUS at University of Maryland University College. She has a background in human resources and has worked in career services at four universities. Most recently, she was the Lead Trainer in Europe for the Department of Labor Employment Workshop teaching transitioning U.S. servicemembers about the civilian job search. She is very passionate about helping others obtain their professional goals.

 

Why Join a Professional Association?

Professional associations are non-profit organizations committed to furthering a specific profession.  These organizations provide a vast array of benefits, and UMUC Career Services recently hosted a webinar to discuss why students or alumni should consider joining professional associations from several of their leaders.  The webinar featured the following panel of experts:

  • Liliya Roberts, program chair for UMUC’s Health Services Management and Management Studies undergraduate program who spoke about the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).
  • Kathleen Sindell, professor and program chair of UMUC’s Certified Financial Planning Program who spoke about the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
  • Teresa Skehan, the senior managing consultant and Lead Security Risk advisor, Cyber & Biometrics for IBM Global Business Services who is also a leader in ISACA, an association for information security professionals.

Although these panelists represented organizations for very different professions, all of these organizations offered similar member benefits such as:

  • Networking opportunities. Whether it is attending a local mixer or a large annual conference, a primary reason to consider joining a professional association is to expand your network. For students, there may be a significant discount to attend these events.  For example, to attend the FPA Annual Conference in Nashville, TN this year, students can receive a waiver for their $2,500 conference fee if they volunteer at the event.  Additionally, different chapters offer different events, so joining a local chapter can provide some extra networking opportunities.
  • Training materials for certifications. Many career fields have industry certifications that can be important for one’s professional development. ISACA offers several well-known industry certifications for information security professionals including CISM and CISA.  To help its members prepare for these certification exams, ISACA offers seminars, webinars, courses, and other training materials and events.
  • Scholarship opportunities. Looking for financial assistance to help offset the cost of your tuition? A professional association may be able to help.  Many provide scholarships to its student members, and some may even have special types of scholarships for students who meet certain criteria.  For example, ACHE has scholarship programs for minority students and graduate students.
  • Jobs and internships. To be competitive with other job seekers, gaining experience through internships and other jobs can be vitally important for students and recent graduates. All of the organizations represented offered access to an industry-specific job and internship board.  FPA even has a program where students can get pro bono work experience to gain the hours needed to qualify for the CFP certification.  ACHE offers a particularly robust array of career services that includes resume services specific for the healthcare industry.
  • All of the organizations featured in the webinar also offered its members a chance to connect with a mentor. In addition to one-on-one mentorship connections, FPA has a “Knowledge Circle” where members can share best practices and ask questions all via phone or online. This can be a great way to stay current in your field and learn from those who may be experiencing similar professional challenges at their organizations.
  • Discount memberships for students. If you are a current student who has not yet joined a professional association for your field, then joining one before you graduate is a very good idea for one major reason: the cost! Membership fees for professional associations are typically hundreds of dollars. However, most offer current students a sizable discount.  Student members of ACHE pay $75/year, a 50% discount from its professional membership fee.  FPA student fees are $119, but joining the UMUC student chapter may allow you access to additional funding to further subsidize that fee.  And for ISACA, the annual fee for students is only $25!

If you are not sure about what professional associations exist for your career field, check out the US Department of Labor Professional Association Finder.  Current students are also encouraged to join the UMUC student chapter of your professional association if one is available to access additional resources.  Click here for a list of UMUC Clubs and Student Organizations.

To learn more about what was discussed during this informative conversation, click here to watch the recording of the presentation.  If you are looking for a way to strategically grow your network, access resources to help you obtain an industry certification, or find additional job or internship opportunities, then consider joining a professional association.  As Panelist Teresa Skehan said during the webinar, “Careers are jungle gyms, but joining professional organizations can help you figure it all out.”

 

Kristin Schrader is the Assistant Director of InternPLUS at University of Maryland University College.  She has a background in human resources and has worked in career services at four universities.  Most recently, she was the Lead Trainer in Europe for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Workshop teaching transitioning service members about the civilian job search.  Kristin is a proud military spouse and is passionate about helping others obtain their professional goals.

The Importance of Networking in Your Career Development

“Network, network, network” is a common career-building directive given to first-time job hunters and seasoned professionals alike.  It is impossible to browse career blogs and business advice columns without being reminded of the importance of networking for success.

The idea of networking can be a bit intimidating, but the fundamental practices have been around for quite some time. Networking is just a fancy term for talking to people and building connections.  Surely, you can network –you’ve been taking to people your whole life!

What sets networking apart from normal everyday conversations is intention and purpose.  Good networkers share information and build connections.  They make concerted efforts to expose themselves to new people and opportunities while continuing to maintain and strengthen existing contacts. Effective networking requires sharing, openness, and courage to push beyond your comfort zone in meeting new people and cultivating relationships.

While it may seem scary or intimidating to put yourself out there, networking is an essential part of your career development. With more practice, it often gets easier over time.  The truth is, few people are natural networkers. Most of us grew up being told don’t talk to strangers and for many of us, that is what networking feels like. At networking events, it is likely the other people feel just as awkward as you, so give them a break; help them out by saying hello and initiating a conversation.

It helps to develop networking techniques that suit your natural style.  If you loath big events, receptions and conferences may not be your ideal networking venues.  Look for smaller events or start by deepening relationships with existing acquaintances. Attend presentations or professional development events with the goal of speaking to the people sitting on either side of you and build from there.  Consider volunteering to be on committees or to help with projects where you will be in involved with others in a more controlled situation.  As your comfort level grows so too will your ability to connect.

Networking can seem challenging, but you have been practicing the basic skills your entire life.  Just make it a point to get out there and say hello. Remember to listen more than you speak and to take a genuine interest in others.  Share generously but expect nothing in return. Ask respectfully for advice or assistance during your conversations.  Over time connections will be forged, your network will grow, and everyone will benefit.

Career Services is here to support you. To access our tool, advice, and job board, or to connect with a career adviser, please visit CareerQuest.

Ann Martin is a Career Services Advisor at University of Maryland University College where she has worked for more than five years. She holds a master’s in mental health counseling from Bowie State University.  As a mid-life career changer, she feels uniquely qualified to assist adult students in transforming their lives and finding their place in the workforce.

Don’t just move forward in technology – sprint ahead

With technology careers in high demand, coding bootcamps have become an increasingly popular method for recent college grads to gain the additional skills needed to jump start a career in technology. Coding bootcamps are short, intense, training programs focused on teaching students the latest, in-demand technical skills.

The average traditional coding bootcamp costs anywhere between $12,000 and $24,000. For many recent grads this cost is not a realistic option, given they may already be facing undergrad student loans. The University of Maryland University College has partnered with a leading talent development company, Revature, to offer UMUC graduates – and soon-to-be-graduates – a no cost option that not only provides hands on coding training, but also launches IT careers.

Revature is at the forefront of innovation and talent development. They provide training to recent college grads – and soon-to-be grads – in enterprise-level, next-gen and niche technology through a world class 12-week immersive, industry aligned coding bootcamp.  Revature’s talent development model is among the most inclusive and accessible in the nation. Graduates of the program become Revature professionals and work on innovative, challenging and rewarding software development projects for Revature corporate partners, including leading Fortune 500 companies, government organizations, and top systems integrator.

The bootcamp includes:

  • A 12-week immersive, industry-aligned coding training program
  • A weekly living allowance
  • All books and training materials
  • Professional certificates paid for by Revature
  • Dedicated industry mentors to ensure your success during the bootcamp and first two years of employment
  • ePortfolio to showcase your projects, accomplishments, and certificates
  • Guaranteed employment for bootcamp graduates (positions located throughout the U.S.)

Bootcamps are located at Revature’s Reston, VA headquarters, and new bootcamps begin regularly. To be eligible for the bootcamp you must:

  1. Have graduated in the past two years with a bachelor’s or master’s degree (preferred majors include: Computer Science, Informatics, Engineering, Statistics, Economics, or Mathematics)
  2. Have some experience with C++. C#, Java or other select languages
  3. Be a U.S. citizen

Don’t have the necessary programing experience?  Don’t worry, if you aren’t ready for the intensive 12-week intensive bootcamp, Revature offers free online programs that support all levels of abilities from beginner to advanced. Click here to learn more.

FAQS:

Q: What makes Revature unique?
A:
Most training bootcamps require you to invest in them. Revature is unique because Revature invests in you! Revature partners with many leading Fortune 500 companies, government organizations, and top systems integrators that are looking for software professionals with experience in niche, next-gen, and leading-edge technologies. Revature hires entry-level coders, and then through immersive training, delivers job-ready experienced software engineers. Graduates of the program go on to work on innovative and challenging projects for Revature’s corporate partners.

Q. How do I apply?
A.
Go to Revature.com/umuc

Q. Can I contact a recruiter directly?
A.
Yes! Call 888.789.1634 or email umuc@revature.com.

Q. Can I join the coding bootcamp if I have no coding experience?
A.
While anyone can apply, the coding bootcamp is very immersive and intensive. A background in coding is essential to successfully completing the program. If you have no coding experience, we suggest you enroll in the free online program first. Go to Revature.com/umuc and click on Free Online Classes to access this training. Once you’ve completed a project with the online program, you could then apply for one of the coding bootcamps!

 

 

 

Post Career Fair Strategies For Success

Job Fairs and recruitment events are great ways to connect with career opportunities but your efforts shouldn’t stop when you remove your name tag and head back to your car. Statistically speaking, recruiters say an average of 10-15 percent of career fair attendees will move forward in the application process. Here are some simple “after” strategies to make the most of the events and increase your chances of success:

  1. A little thanks goes a long way. Demonstrate your follow-through and business savvy with a prompt thank you note. A simple email short and to the point will do the trick.  Express and reiterate your interest in the employer, and your suitability for the position in question. Wrap it up with by expressing your pleasure meeting and speaking with them, and your desire to talk more. Keep it brief and most importantly, error free. That’s all there is to it!

  2. Consider and be open to all options. Make good use of the career fair resources. In many cases this could include a Program Guide or app that is available to attendees.  When attending a career fair, most of the participating employers were carefully vetted to ensure they were actively recruiting for available opportunities.  Translation – they are hiring now!  Perhaps there were employers you may have missed or know little about. Visit their websites to learn more about them and their open job opportunities.  If you attended the UMUC Career Fair, be sure to  mention UMUC and participating in the Career Fair when submitting your application to leverage the university-employer relationship.

  3. It’s OK to follow-up. If you expected to hear from an employer and haven’t after a reasonable length of time (typically expect to wait 3-4 weeks or some other time frame they indicated at the event) it is OK to politely follow-up with a brief email restating your interest and asking about the employer’s decision timeline.

  4. Prepare for the next steps. Now is also a good time to begin preparing for those interviews.  Reassess your current skills, abilities, strengths, interests, and work values.  Re-examine accomplishments and achievements, and get comfortable talking about them.  Think of some stories that demonstrate your achievements and can be used to show all those hard-to-measure qualities like judgment, initiative, teamwork or leadership.  Ideally, you should have three or four good examples of your work experience firmly in mind that can be adapted to answer a variety of behavioral-based interview questions.

    To help you with interview preparation, the University’s interactive InterviewStream tool enables you to stream and record virtual mock interviews, providing a great source for practice and feedback.  You can find the InterviewStream link on the CareerQuest landing page after you log into your account. And while you’re on CareerQuest don’t forget to keep your resume and profile updated so that interested in employers can find you.

  5. It’s not over ‘til it’s over. No matter how well you think things went, now is not the time to slack-off on your job search efforts. Keep at it.  The worst that could happen is that you’ll end up with multiple offers, and that is really not a bad problem to have!

Make the most of your career fair efforts by implementing smart strategies before, during and after the event.  Don’t let optimism and a great experience at an event lull you into complacence. If your goal is a new position, believe it is out there and don’t let-up until you get it.

Career Services is here to support you. To access our tool, advice, and job board, or to connect with a career adviser, please visit CareerQuest.

Ann Martin is a Career Services Advisor at University of Maryland University College where she has worked for more than five years. She holds a master’s in mental health counseling from Bowie State University.  As a mid-life career changer, she feels uniquely qualified to assist adult students in transforming their lives and finding their place in the workforce.

How to Gain the Interest of Recruiters During a Virtual Career Fair

Although it’s convenient to attend a career fair online, it does still require an investment of your time so you want to be prepared to make the most of the opportunity to connect with employers. It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the participating recruiters is to find qualified candidates for their current or future openings.Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Spring Career Fair App

For the in-person University of Maryland University College (UMUC) 2017 Spring Career Fair on Thursday, March 9, an exclusive app is available to provide students and alumni access to tips to prepare for success, a list of participating employers and the open jobs they are looking to fill, directions, and so much more. The app will provide you resources before, during, and after the event to make sure you are connected to information to help you make a wonderful impression with hiring employers both during the fair and beyond.Continue Reading